Bingo has broad appeal

Maggie Valley games end for season
By Vicki Hyatt | Sep 14, 2012

For many diehard bingo players, the thrill of having five numbers align and being the first to call out "bingo," is unmatched.

Bingo is a popular fundraising event in Haywood County, and avid players can often find regular games where they can try their luck. Regular games are held at the Moose Lodge. VFW, the American Legion, and during the summer months, at the Maggie Valley Pavilion.

For Peggy Albert, president of the Maggie Valley Civic Association, which hosts the Thursday night games, bingo is a way to provide entertainment in the valley, as well as earn funds for needed community projects.

On a good night, about 80 people gather at the pavilion to visit with frintes, grab a bite  and perhaps earn a bit of cash — in that order.

"I come here for the camaraderie," said Dennis Hoffman, who spends half the year in Maggie and the rest of the year in Florida.

The activity has not only helped him get to know his neighbors, but has prompted him to become involved as an officer in the civic association.

Hoffman is joined weekly by Roy Daughtry, who said playing in the games was a way to make new friends.

"We've had people tell us we have a very friendly game," Albert said, emphasizing the Maggie event is about fun first.

For the Farrington family of Jonathan Creek, weekly bingo in Maggie Valley is a time for togetherness. As Lois and her son played in the early bird games, Kaci, 8, did homework.

"We've been coming here3 swince she was a baby," Lois said of Kaci. "I'm off on Thursdays, so this is a perfect thing to do."

Bingo in Maggie ended in August, but plans are in the works to start again in the spring. That includes another year of dinner and snack concessions provided by Lydia Freyeisen of the Maggie Valley Moonshine Grill.

Maggie Valley isn't the only place were bingo reign as king of entertainment.

Deloras Rathbone of Waynesville, is an avid player who finds regular games at the American Legion, the VFW and even in Cherokee where one game a month where the entry fee is $75, but players stand a chance of winning $35,000.

"It's relaxing," she said. "There's no television, no telephones. At Cherokee, I have played 12 cards at a time."

While winning isn't a regular thing, it is not out of reach, either.

"I won $1,500 one time," she said.

Rathbone and Libby Heinz have T-shirts declaring themselves as the "Bingo Chicks," and play the game as often as possible.

Mary Dean Davis, who lives at the Laurels of Junlauska in Waynesville likes the prizes and loves to play. At a recent fundraiser for the Haywood County Schools Foundation, Davis arrived early for a festive night out.

"I've won lots of good prizes," she said. "There was a basket full of jewelry, a pocketbook and a gift card. I really love to play bingo."

Tommie Rathbone, who is the cafeteria manager at Riverbend school and a 29-year school employee, plays bingo with husband Terry and grandson James Heinz, 12.

Rathbone is a relative newcomer to bingo, and was hooked after she won a door prize ticket during her first time playing. She introduced her grandson to the game at age 12, and he was quickly hooked, too.  Husband Terry had a long history of playing bingo in Fines Creek where there were frequent games.

Rathbone wouldn't call herself a bingo fanatic, but said she has attended the school foundation event and the Catholic women's circle games each year since they began.

"I just like to see everybody," she said.

Bingo lovers will have another chance to gather on Sept. 14 when the St. John's Catholic Women's Circle holds its game at the fairgrounds.